Today we hear the Gospel for the 34th Sunday After Pentecost which is taken from Matthew 25:14-30, the parable of the Talents. The reason for the Readings to now switch to Matthew instead of Luke as we have been hearing for so many weeks, is because Pascha is late this year.
The Gospel is actually prescribed for the 16th Sunday of Matthew. The permeating theme throughout this gospel is the understanding of the Greek word, “talanton”, or talent. In the ancient days, talent referred to a monetary unit of approximately 6000 drachmas (Greek) or 3000 shekels (Syrian) standards. It was also used as a unit of weight about 75 lbs., the average amount that a man could carry. Jesus used this term in a metaphorical manner to convey a spiritual meaning, preferably to mean a special gift, a natural endowment or an unusual skill. It is important to note that all our creative aptitudes and natural abilities are God’s gifts to us to use wisely and prudently, not neglected or hidden under a rock bearing no fruit or rewards.
The actual purpose of the gospel lesson is to teach us about the relationship between the Master and His servants. The Master who leaves for a time and returns is actually Christ. His servants are his followers, we Christians. The message is indeed made clear that while the risen Christ reigns in heaven, and the servant Christians await His triumphal return, they (we) are not to be inactive, complacent or stagnant but rather eager to exercise and utilize the gifts (talents), responsibilities and demands the Master (Jesus Christ), has placed upon them (us). Therefore, the best way for Christians to wait for the glorious coming of Christ is by living according to the teachings expressed, for example, in the Sermon on the Mount, for the gifts bestowed to us by Christ include all the spiritual gifts that He grants us through the Holy Spirit.
St. John Chrysostom said in commenting on the Gospel of the Talents that “God gave us speech, and hands, and feet, and strength of body, and mind and understanding that we might use all these things, both for our own salvation and for our neighbor’s benefit”. He continues by stating that, “for nothing is so pleasing to God, and makes one His friend, as to live for the common benefit”. (Homily 78)
This is the meaning of this gospel for us as followers of Jesus Christ. It exhorts us to not be afraid to use our many God given talents for the Glory of God and His creation.
We also celebrate today, January 30, 2021, the Holy Feast of the Three Hierarchs: St. Basil the Great, St. Gregory the Theologian and St. John Chrysostom – the great Doctors of the Church, who played a pivotal role as influential bishops of the early Church in the shaping and development of Christian theology.